Total Perspective Vortex
What really happened to Trillian? Theories abound, but you can see what she's really been up to on this blog. If you're looking for white mice, depressed robots, or the occasional Pan Galactic Gargleblaster you might be better served here:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/cult/hitchhikers/guide/.

Otherwise, hello, and welcome.
Mail Trillian here<





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Women, The Internet and You: Tips for Men Who Use Online Dating Sites
Part I, Your Profile and Email

Part II, Selecting a Potential Date

Part III, Your First Date!

Part IV, After the First Date. Now What?


"50 First Dates"






Don't just sit there angry and ranting, do something constructive.
In the words of Patti Smith (all hail Sister Patti): People have the power.
Contact your elected officials.

Don't be passive = get involved = make a difference.
Find Federal Officials
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or Search by State

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Contact The Media
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Words are cool.
The English language is complex, stupid, illogical, confounding, brilliant, beautiful, and fascinating.
Every now and then a word presents itself that typifies all the maddeningly gorgeousness of language. They're the words that give you pause for thought. "Who came up with that word? That's an interesting string of letters." Their beauty doesn't lie in their definition (although that can play a role). It's also not in their onomatopoeia, though that, too, can play a role. Their beauty is in the way their letters combine - the visual poetry of words - and/or the way they sound when spoken. We talk a lot about music we like to hear and art we like to see, so let's all hail the unsung heroes of communication, poetry and life: Words.
Here are some I like. (Not because of their definition.)

Quasar
Hyperbole
Amenable
Taciturn
Ennui
Prophetic
Tawdry
Hubris
Ethereal
Syzygy
Umbrageous
Twerp
Sluice
Omnipotent
Sanctuary
Malevolent
Maelstrom
Luddite
Subterfuge
Akimbo
Hoosegow
Dodecahedron
Visceral
Soupçon
Truculent
Vitriol
Mercurial
Kerfuffle
Sangfroid




























 







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Highlights from the Archives. Some favorite Trillian moments.

Void, Of Course: Eliminating Expectations and Emotions for a Better Way of Life

200i: iPodyssey

Macs Are from Venus, Windows is from Mars Can a relationship survive across platform barriers?
Jerking Off

Get A Job

Office Church Ladies: A Fieldguide

'Cause I'm a Blonde

True? Honestly? I think not.

A Good Day AND Funyuns?

The Easter Boy

Relationship in the Dumpster

Wedding Dress 4 Sale, Never Worn

Got Friends? Are You Sure? Take This Test

What About Class? Take This Test

A Long Time Ago, in a Galaxy Far Far Away, There Was a Really Bad Movie

May Your Alchemical Process be Complete. Rob Roy Recipe

Good Thing She's Not in a Good Mood Very Often (We Knew it Wouldn't Last)

What Do I Have to Do to Put You in this Car Today?

Of Mice and Me (Killer Cat Strikes in Local Woman's Apartment)

Trillian: The Musical (The Holiday Special)

LA Woman (I Love (Hate) LA)

It is my Cultureth
...and it would suit-eth me kindly to speak-eth in such mannered tongue

Slanglish

It's a Little Bit Me, It's a Little Bit You
Blogging a Legacy for Future Generations


Parents Visiting? Use Trillian's Mantra!

Ghosts of Christmas Past: Mod Hair Ken

Caught Blogging by Mom, Boss or Other

2003 Holiday Sho-Lo/Mullet Awards

Crullers, The Beer Store and Other Saintly Places

Come on Out of that Doghouse! It's a Sunshine Day!

"...I had no idea our CEO is actually Paula Abdul in disguise."

Lap Dance of the Cripple

Of Muppets and American Idols
"I said happier place, not crappier place!"

Finally Off Crutches, Trillian is Emancipated

Payless? Trillian? Shoe Confessions

Reality Wednesday: Extremely Local Pub

Reality Wednesday: Backstage Staging Zone (The Sweater Blog)

The Night Secret Agent Man Shot My Dad

To Dream the Impossible Dream: The Office Karaoke Party

Trillian Flies Economy Class (Prisoner, Cell Block H)

Trillian Visits the Village of the Damned, Takes Drugs, Becomes Delusional and Blogs Her Brains Out

Trillian's Parents are Powerless

Striptease for Spiders: A PETA Charity Event (People for the Ethical Treatment of Arachnids)

What's Up with Trillian and the Richard Branson Worship?

"Screw the French and their politics, give me their cheese!"


















 
Mail Trillian here





Trillian's Guide to the Galaxy gives 5 stars to these places in the Universe:
So much more than fun with fonts, this is a daily dose of visual poetry set against a backdrop of historical trivia. (C'mon, how can you not love a site that notes Wolfman Jack's birthday?!)

CellStories

Alliance for the Great Lakes


Hot, so cool, so cool we're hot.

Ig Nobel Awards

And you think YOU have the worst bridesmaid dress?

Coolest Jewelry in the Universe here (trust Trillian, she knows)

Red Tango

If your boss is an idiot, click here.

Evil Cat Full of Loathing.

Wildlife Works

Detroit Cobras


The Beachwood Reporter is better than not all, but most sex.



Hey! Why not check out some great art and illustration while you're here? Please? It won't hurt and it's free.

Shag

Kii Arens

Tim Biskup

Jeff Soto

Jotto




Get Fuzzy Now!
If you're not getting fuzzy, you should be. All hail Darby Conley. Yes, he's part of the Syndicate. But he's cool.





Who or what is HWNMNBS: (He Whose Name Must Not Be Spoken) Trillian's ex-fiancé. "Issues? What issues?"







Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.


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Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!

Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Smart Girls
(A Trillian de-composition, to the tune of Mamas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys)

Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
Don’t let them do puzzles and read lots of books
Make ‘em be strippers and dancers and such
Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
They’ll never find men and they’re always alone
Even though men claim they want brains

Smart girls ain’t easy to love and they’re above playing games
And they’d rather read a book than subvert themselves
Kafka, Beethoven and foreign movies
And each night alone with her cat
And they won’t understand her and she won’t die young
She’ll probably just wither away

Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
Don’t let them do puzzles and read lots of books
Make ‘em be strippers and dancers and such
Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
They’ll never find men and they’re always alone
Even though men claim they want brains

A smart girl loves creaky old libraries and lively debates
Exploring the world and art and witty reparteé
Men who don’t know her won’t like her and those who do
Sometimes won’t know how to take her
She’s rarely wrong but in desperation will play dumb
Because men hate that she’s always right

Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
Don’t let them do puzzles and read lots of books
Make ‘em be strippers and dancers and such
Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
They’ll never find men and they’re always alone
Even though men claim they want brains





























Life(?) of Trillian
Single/Zero

 
Saturday, October 31, 2009  
Boo!

Man I love Halloween.

And thanks to really nasty weather Devil's Night wasn't horrible. There were some arsons. But not like in the past. Maybe it was due to the bad weather or maybe Detroit/Michigan was given a metaphoric blanket of forgiveness and sympathy this year. Whatever the case I'm hoping this is the new trend.

Too many people are living a scary nightmare every day other than Halloween. No job, no prospects, no money, no home...scary, scary stuff.

I watched Paranormal Activity and sat there thinking, "Hey, at least they have a house, a place to live, they're paying their mortgage. What's a little freaky paranormal activity in the house when you've got a job and can pay the mortgage?"

Unemployed isn't just a box to tick on forms, it's a life altering perspective.

My Halloween costume this year is a new spin on my costume from a few years ago. Remember my "You don't scare me. I've tried online dating." shirt? Yeah, well, I updated and CaféPressed a new one that reads: You can't scare me. I'm unemployed.

I wore it to see Paranormal Activity on Devil's Night, in a suburb of Detroit. I really missed a great marketing opportunity. I could have sold 100s of 'em. Unfortunately the target marketing demograph is, well, unemployed. And they don't have money. So, not exactly a money-making venture.





But it speaks to the horrific nature of how bad "things" are.

I feel "better" since leaving Chicago. Maybe it's my shaved legs and clean underwear. Maybe it's because I'm among so many of my kind: The Unemployed.

Like The Damned, we're a zombie-like bunch, wandering around, trying to change things, trying to get out of our situation, but facing realities, statistics and odds that would defeat anyone with a functioning brain.

I'm handing out candy at my mum's house tonight. Looking forward to that. Children are the hope for the future and all that. My mother wanted to give out extra goodies this year. Not just Snickers and M&Ms. We loaded up on those mini boxes of cereal to hand out with the candy. My mother has a sad but valid point: It may be the only "nutritious" breakfast some of those kids will have in weeks. I'm not sure how the cereal is going to go over with the kids, so I'm working out a delivery technique wherein the Snickers and M&Ms go in first and the cereal is kind of an extra bonus.

Could be an interesting night.

Happy haunting! I hope you all get loads of the good treats.

11:43 AM

Friday, October 30, 2009  
Okay, okay, I get it. I staged an intervention with myself.

I got out of the condo and did something useful with myself. I'm helping my mother. It's sort of an out of the frying pan into the fire situation, trading one form of anxiety for another, but at least helping my mother get rid of a lifetime of stuff accumulated through a long, happy, marriage and three children and four grandchildren is doing something useful.

I washed and brushed my hair. I did laundry. I'm wearing clean underwear.

And yes, I shaved my legs. And my mother will make me eat something other than cookie dough and Diet Pepsi. And I'm out in the world, interacting with people. So yeah. It's good.

I'm giving away a lot more forgiveness and sympathy Snuggies® and that feels good - or at least helpful. You know, psychologically. I'm not a productive member of society in that I don't have a job, but, I'm doing what I can to contribute to the greater good. Handing out good will and compassion. Hey, it's the least I can do.

Matlock was on the train. A smartly dressed older man who, I kid you not, looked exactly like Matlock era Andy Griffith. Except instead of Andy’s gentle, kind, smiley, folksy wise sage demeanor, this guy was a jerk. Not a crotchety old man kind of jerk, not an “I’ve seen it all and been through a lot in my life and I’ve earned the right to spout off now and again” kind of jerk. Just a jerk. A run of the mill asshole. The sharp contrast of his congenial Matlock looks against his asshole attitude was a challenge for my forgiveness and sympathy Snuggie®. Sending a wish to the Universe for this guy was not easy.

I mean, where to start? What does he need? What sort of guidance and enlightenment could the Universe give him to help ease whatever’s causing his jerkitude? At this stage of his life if he hasn’t bothered to, or been inspired to realize that his anger and hostility might, just maybe, be self-inflicted, then is there really anything anyone, least of all me, can summon for him? I can give him the forgiveness and sympathy Snuggie®, no problem. Done. But what’s at the root of his jerkitude?

Usually, so far, anyway, it’s been pretty easy to ascertain what’s eating people, or at least what the Universe could help them with in getting past their negative behaviors. The woman at the grocery with the disheveled hair and clothes yelling and slapping her two bawling kids? Duh. She needs a decent night of sleep, a break from the kids and a strong does of patience. Hey, Universe, little help here for the woman on the verge of alienating her kids? A little patience, a little sleep, a little reminder that she wanted these children and that the bawling, grabby, snot-nosed beings are also her funny, cute, innocent, darling joys who require nothing but love, acceptance and guidance to appropriate behavior. Done. Forgiveness and sympathy Snuggie® in place, wish to the Universe sent, hope rendered. Job done.

See how easy that is? It takes like two minutes.

Accept. Forgive. Heal. Love. Peace. Duh. (I'm thinking about getting that tramp stamped somewhere on me. By the way.)

But this Matlock asshole? Yeah. That’s a tough one. I puzzled over that for a long time. When he got off the train at Kalamazoo I watched him jabbing his cane at a woman I assume was his daughter or daughter-in-law. She didn’t flinch. She’s obviously used to his assholiness. She obviously expected it. Eureka. Universe, help this guy’s family accept him and not hate him and give them the patience to deal with him. Maybe their kindness to him will in turn calm him, ease whatever emotional and/or physical pain is causing him to be such a jerk.

I wrapped an extra Snuggie® around him and cloaked the woman in one, too. She didn’t need forgiving but boy did she need sympathy.

I thought about how futile and insignificant my little wish to the Universe is to that woman and even the old jerk. The thing I really like about this is that no one will ever know I'm thinking nice things for them. Kindness of strangers and all that. It rocks, right? We'd all like to think people do that for us, right? But we all know it doesn't happen. Often. So I feel like I'm picking up the slack for the rest of society who are too busy or preoccupied to think about taking a minute to think nice things for strangers. Hey, I'm not working, what else am I gonna do? Mainly I just feel the world needs some attitude adjustment. Rather than get discouraged by mean, selfish, arrogant, angry, or uptight people why not give them what they obviously need? Forgiveness and sympathy? I mean, I can't actually, you know, take them to therapy and solve all their problems. But I can very easily control my reaction to them. The world attitude kettle is about to boil over, I know it, you know it. If my forgiveness and sympathy Snuggies® are relieving any of that pressure, well, you know, that's cool. If not, oh well. At least I'm trying.

I'm not expecting anything in return - karma points or a plea bargain when I find my soul sitting at a bar in Hell listening to ABBA - but a couple odd things have happened lately. I'm not sure how the karma thing works and I'm pretty sure if the whole God/Satan thing is real, Satan, like God, works in mysterious ways. I'm remaining scientifically agnostic but I'm trying, I mean, really, really trying, to be more spiritually hopeful. There've been a couple incidents since my dad died that defy logic and reason. I'm not ready to openly discuss them. But. You know. Let's just say I'm a lot more open to spiritual possibilities these days.

I'm not going around looking for clues or significance, and certainly not assigning significance to things are just coincidental. I'm not reading anything into anything. Fear not, while I'm more open to the concept of, well, you know... I'm not actively looking for meaning in everything - or anything for that matter. I've always said, always maintained that if God, Jesus, Buddah, whomever, wants to come into my life I'm fine with it. They're welcome any time. My door is agnostic, but it's accepting and compassionate to any supreme deity who doesn't condone violence and hatred, and that door has always been wide open. So far no one's come to visit. Okay, well, I mean, since my dad died there have been a couple incidents. But. I'm not talking about those yet. The spiritual jury is out on them. I need time to digest it wrap my feeble brain around them a bit more.

However. Since the whole forgiveness blanket idea hit, I have had a couple, you know, niceties happen to me. Nothing big or impressive or life changing. But certainly out of the ordinary for my life.

For instance....

Right after I bestowed forgiveness and sympathy to the Matlock guy and his family, it was 10:00 AM and I was jonesing for a Diet Pepsi. I vowed to at least cut back on the crap during the visit to my mother’s. She still does not approve of pop and doesn’t allow it at home. Even, especially, when the grandkids are visiting. She’s a good gran who spoils the grandkids rotten, but there are limits, standards, to maintain. She knows I’ve had pop, of course, and she knows the grandkids drink pop, but she doesn’t approve. We know she knows and we know she doesn’t approve, and she’s knows we know she knows and doesn’t approve so there’s lots of guilt. I love my mother and she has endured a lot thanks to me and my life(?) so I figure the least I can do is respect her feelings about pop.

Besides, since my dad died she’s been trying to get me to drink his booze. “There are a couple bottles of wine in the pantry, your dad’s, you might as well drink them.” “Why don’t you have a Scotch? That last bottle your dad opened is going bad, I bought some soda, you can dilute it.” When I visit and I take her to get groceries she rolls over to the liquor aisle and says, “What was that wine Dad and you liked? I’ll get you a bottle.”

When I visited my parents my dad always got an extra bottle or two of wine, he’d splurge on something “nice” for my visit. I knew he drank much cheaper wine when I wasn’t there and I know my visits were a handy excuse to get a better caliber of fermented grapes. But I also know he wanted to get something special for me, something nice, something good. I’m the only one of us three kids who enjoys wine and can distinguish between good and bad. Mainly thanks to my dad’s tutelage.

Sometimes he’d surprise me and pop open a bottle of champagne. I love the stuff. Love it. When I was about 11 he and my mother let me have a glass of champagne at a fancy hotel. It was Dom and it was like mother’s milk to me. After that, on rare, special occasions, my dad ordered me a glass of champagne or a Kir Royale. “The champagne isn’t great here, Lieutenant, the kir will sweeten it and cut the sting on your palate.”

I know. I know. You may be thinking, “OMG!!! That’s horrible! You were just a child!!! What a horrible, horrible, irresponsible man!!! Where was child protective services?!! Your mother allowed this?? Does the name Drew Barrymore mean anything to you??? Were you in rehab by age 16??”

Simmer down. My parents, my dad especially, held the opinion that demystifying adult vices was a good way of preventing abuse of them. He’s the kind of dad who, when he caught my 14 year old brother stealing one of his cigarettes, went out and bought a pack of unfiltered Camels and made my brother smoke the entire pack at one go. My brother was violently sick for days and has never touched a cigarette since. As a very young wide-eyed preschooler observing all this I learned a valuable lesson, too. No allure, no temptation, no smoking. His methods may not have always been traditional, and often my mother looked on with concern that he was crossing a line, but, gotta hand it to the man, us kids survived to adulthood, earned college degrees, (until recently) maintained professional careers and generally lead healthy, lives without a need for rehab or addiction counseling.

Well. Apart from my new drinking problem. Diet Pepsi. Ugh. Yeah. I know. My parents didn’t allow me to drink pop but they pushed booze on me. Don’t ask me to explain. There is a difference; there is some logic there. We all know the health dangers of artificial sweeteners and caffeine. I kind of wish my parents had applied the same demystifying tactic to pop. Maybe if they’d let me drink it when I was a kid I wouldn’t have this drinking problem now. Kinda doubt it, though.

10 hours into the first day of my Diet Pepsi-free regime I was suffering withdrawal. Big time.

I wanted to stretch my legs and back, anyway, I reasoned, so I took a walk to the café car. I mean, you know, naturally. Where else was I going to walk? I was on a train. I had to go to the café car, right? It’s purely coincidental that they happen to have Diet Pepsi for purchase in the café car. And hey, they also have wine for purchase in the cafe car. If I really had a problem, a real drinking problem, I’d be downing train wine from Chicago to Ann Arbor. But no. All I wanted was a Diet Pepsi. (feel free to insert a Suicidal Tendencies sound bite here. “All I wanted was a Pepsi, just a Pepsi…” )

As the train rolled into Battle Creek I rolled into the café car. The café attendant was nowhere to be seen. The car was empty.

“Swut. Did I miss the announcement? Is it closed?”

I must have looked panicked because I felt a jovial pat on my shoulder. “Here I am, no worries. What would the pretty lady desire?” A man wearing an Amtrak café car uniform and a smile slid around me and behind the bar.

Okay. Let me take a minute to explain Amtrak to the uninitiated. Amtrak has fantastic employees. From the station attendants to the engineers to the conductors to the café car staff, my experiences (of which there are many, coast to coast and part of Canada) garners a 96% outstanding rating when it comes to Amtrak staff. Even their call center reps are nice and helpful. I kid you not.

And yes, I know, I know, someone out there will disagree and have a tale of horrible service, rude employees and a vow to never ride a train again. But. My experiences, at least where Amtrak staff is concerned, have always been exemplary. Professional, courteous, helpful, and, gulp, friendly.

It’s the friendly part that puts them in the exemplary category. They could be professional, courteous and helpful because it’s their job and their supervisors tell them they have to be that way. They are objective goals for which standards can be set and goals can be met.

But friendly? Friendly is subjective. And not necessary. If an employee is professional, courteous and helpful does it really matter if they’re friendly? Not so much. And you can’t teach friendly. People just are, or are not, friendly. And like I said, it’s subjective. And generally, I find Amtrak employees to be friendly. Nice people. I know a few airlines who would benefit greatly by having their attendants and agents spend a week riding the rails observing and learning from their transportation employee brethren.

So. The ‘pretty lady’ comment didn’t come as too much of a surprise. I mean, well, sort of a surprise, I don’t get called pretty lady very often. Even in the jovial, general greeting sense. I’m not the type of woman who evokes ‘pretty lady’ greetings.

I was thinking about this and I realized I haven’t been called pretty in something like 9 years. And that was just a basic pleasantry, a ‘pretty lady’ generic kind of comment. Ah well. Blog for another day, therapy for another breakdown.

‘Pretty lady’ made me think of other general comments guys, usually older men, usually bar tenders or wait staff or your friend’s dad. Ma’am, missy, cutie, sweetheart, babe, little lady…little lady. Geeze, has anyone ever called me little lady? My dad. When I was, in fact, little. Around the time I turned six I morphed from little lady to lieutenant. I guess I earned my stripes.

When I was a teenager my parents started calling me young lady when they were about to scold me or beseech me to examine my behavior. “Young lady, get in here right now.” “Young lady, you’ve got a lot of explaining to do about the hi-fi speaker.” “What is the meaning of this Algebra grade, young lady?” “And just where do you think you’re going dressed like that, young lady?” “Just who do you think you are, young lady?”

The latter were, of course, rhetoric questions. The only possible way to respond is with sarcasm and that’s never a good idea when you’re 15 and blasted the hi-fi woofer into submission via Clash at top volume the night before. A smart young lady affects a guilty, apologetic, submissive demeanor and heads straight to her room to reflect upon the error of her grievous ways, pray for forgiveness and guidance in reforming her life, and hopes she can reform fast enough to salvage her future.

Consequently to me, young lady packs a powerful disciplinary punch. Even when meant as a jovial greeting.

But. Pretty lady? Yeah, it’s been a long time. I was in Mexico a really, really long time ago, and the men on the streets used to holler out, “Pretty ladeee, pretty ladeee, roses?” (Or whatever they were selling.) It bugged me. I mean, I know they’re just trying to make a living, but attempting to tease money out of tourists by doling out “compliments” to any unMexian woman who walks by got on my nerves. To me it spoke to the financial oppression and hardships they faced, that they were forced into a sort of compliment slavery trying to hawk flowers, fake silver bracelets and Chiclets on the streets.

Yes. All that went through my mind when the Amtrak café attendant called me pretty lady. But, given that he’s an Amtrak employee, I knew it was just a friendly greeting. He was there and ready to serve me whatever my pretty lady heart desired off the menu.

“Is the Diet Pepsi in bottles or cans?” I asked, a little too desperately.

“Cans, I’m afraid. But they’re ice cold, I’ve been chilling them just for you since Hammond, Indiana.”

How’d he know I prefer bottles and abhor cans? How’d he know the only way I’d drink out of a can is if it’s chilled to sup-zero temperature?

Because he’s an Amtrak employee, that’s why.

I smiled, chuckled at his joke. “Ooooo, since Hammond? Wow. You’re good. Since you went to so much effort I’ll have two, please.”

“Thatta girl, I knew you were a woman of fine, discriminating taste.”

Okay. That cracked me up. I know, I need to get out more. But it >is funny. And typical of Amtrak employee friendliness and joviality.

I’d been trying to figure out who the guy reminded me of but I couldn’t place him. When he said that last quip it dawned on me that he looked exactly like John Oates circa 1985. Yes. John Oates of Hall and Oates. Circa 1985. Smaller stature, curly mullet, neatly groomed but bushy mustache and all. That’s a look I haven’t seen in real life for a while. I thought about asking the Universe to bestow this nice guy a favor and nudge him into updating his look. But he was totally rocking it. I think he digs his John Oates circa 1985 look. He seemed happy. Comfortable. Confident. So, you know. Yay him.

The down side to Amtrak is that food and beverages are pricey. Especially for us unemployed riders. But cans? One can would never satisfy my craving. Chilled to perfection or not, I was jonesing, bad, and one can would not be enough.

I reached into my pocket for money. All I had was a twenty. I handed it over and he gave me change back as if I’d only bought one pop.

“Ooops, here.” I handed him back money for the second pop.

“Nope,” he pushed it back at me. “On the house, or on the car, as the case may be.”

“Really? Thank you.” I’ve seen the café car attendants filling out inventory reports. I’ve spent enough time in café cars to know the attendants are required to account for everything they sell. I was pretty sure this guy was actually paying for my pop out of his own pocket. Maybe not, maybe there’s some lee-way café car attendants are given, a pretty lady allowance of some sort. And, after all, I reasoned, I am a frequent tracker, I’ve logged a lot of miles on Amtrak. The least they can do is give me a can of pop once every 10 years.

He thanked me. I smiled and said, “you’re welcome.”

This is where it gets weird and somewhat uncomfortable.

“Oh, yummy. Delicious.”

That’s him, not me savoring my Diet Pepsi.

Yes. He said, “Oh, yummy. Delicious.”

Uhhh. Huh? There was no one else there, he wasn’t looking at any of the food or beverages behind the counter. He was looking straight at me and smiling.

Sensing my confusion, apparently, he said, “Your smile. Yummy.”

I was flustered. I blushed. I kid you not, I was flustered.

“You have a very yummy smile. Very yummy,” he said, again.

…and now I was officially kind of creeped out.

“Oh. Um. Thank you. Thanks for the pop. Have a nice day.” I instinctively smiled, you know, how you do, even when you’re creeped out, because when you thank someone and bid them a nice day you smile. It’s just what you do. It makes the gratitude and good day wish official. If you don’t smile it’s just perfunctory manners, not genuine gratitude. If you’re going to thank someone, it swutting well better be genuine. Says me, anyway. So a smile is a required part of the sincerity of thanking someone. But in this case, the guy was getting all weird about my smile and giving him another one suddenly seemed like I was flirting back at him. Which made me blush even redder (cheeks were burning hot at this point) and feel more flustered and more creeped out.

I couldn’t get out of there fast enough and, I felt bad about that. What had he done? Nothing. He was just being nice to me. He was flirting, for sure, no doubt about it, but where's the harm in that? Men flirt all the time. Just not with me. I felt uncomfortable because of my own issues, not because the guy was genuinely creepy. "Yummy" is kind of a weird adjective to grab when you're complimenting a woman on her smile, especially if you happen to look exactly like John Oates circa 1985, but there's nothing mean or offensive about it.

Instead of slinking away I said to the Universe, "okay, help me out, here. Help me give this guy compassion." And, voila! I did something completely out of character. Like an out of body experience. I said, "You know, I had four years of orthodontia. Headgear, rubber bands, retainers, the whole bit. It was torture. So, compliments on my smile mean a lot to me. Thank you." Smile again.

I know. I know. I know! Breakthrough or what?!

He put his hands on the counter affecting a sort of braced and ready for action stance and did one of those, “mmm, mmm” smirks, the kind with the tongue clicking noise. He laughed and thanked my orthodontist for the good work. And said, “Very yummy.”

As I crossed into the dining car I heard him mutter, quietly, but obviously loud enough for me to hear, “Of all the gin joints in all the towns…”

Okay. I mean, kind of overkill with they yummy smile thing, but still. A man, a real man, an actual XY chromosomed man, was not only nice to me, he was flirting with me. That's unprecedented. I'm pretty sure it's the first time a guy has flirted with me in about 7 years. It was a little creepy, what with the repeated yummy smile thing, but still, I've been such a nonsexual entity for so long that I completely forgot how it feels to have someone express actual attraction to you. I mean, crimony, for a minute there I actually felt like a viable woman, a member of the breeding race. I felt, gulp, worthy.

Whoa.

Whoa.

Seriously.

Whoa.

Stage an intervention, shave my legs, do my laundry, wear clean underwear, wash my hair, hand out some forgiveness and sympathy Snuggies® and look what happens?

Okay, sure, he was an Amtrak café car attendant who looks like John Oates circa 1985 and has an odd compliment vernacular, but that doesn't matter to me. It might matter to a lot of other women, but it doesn't matter to me. I've been riding high on that compliment ever since he gave it to me. Someone, someone, noticed me and bothered to compliment me. It's such a small, insignificant thing for most people. My friends get complimented and flirted with all the time - my married friends claim they hate it, that it's a rude nuisance, they're wearing wedding rings for crying out loud. But. I always wonder how they'd feel if the compliments and flirting stopped. I'm guessing they might start to feel not-so-great about themselves. It's natural to want to feel desired. We are programmed to breed. If we don't feel desired it brings our entire biological purpose into question. If we can't attract a mate we are effectively not viable, credible members of our species. Throw all the feel-good psychology you want at that, tell me that there's so much more that matters, important stuff like intelligence and sense of humor and kindness and on and on, but the bottom line is that if you can't attract a member of the opposite sex none of that matters. Unless you're Mother Teresa. And few of us are Mother Teresa. Most of us need to know we're desirable.

And now I know there's one man, one guy, who, at the very least, noticed and likes my smile.

Karma? God or Satan working in mysterious ways? A gift bestowed from the Universe. Maybe. Maybe. Maybe. No good deed goes unpunished. But more to the illustrative point is that it only takes a few seconds and minimal effort to do something nice, something positive, to make a huge positive difference to someone else. Even, and I think especially, complete strangers.

12:25 PM

Tuesday, October 27, 2009  
It's just a matter of perspective. Unemployed. Single. Sounds like a losing situation from all angles, right?

Yeah. It pretty much sucks.

But.

Just as I discovered there are positive aspects to being eternally single, I'm discovering there are plus sides to being unemployed, and, single and unemployed.

Sure, being unemployed makes me feel scared.

And sure, not getting any nibbles from employers, even the less reputable not-so-interesting ones, barely a "don't call us, we'll call you" response to all of my job applications makes me feel worthless.

Sure, being single makes me feel lonely.

And sure, not getting any interest from men, even the disgusting, not-so-interesting ones, barely a "let me buy you a drink and you can show me a good time" offer at low-lit, low-life dingy bars makes me feel repugnant.

But.

Looking on the bright side of the situation, I haven't had a reason, even societal convention, to shave my legs in weeks. Yep, I've gone through the first couple of prickly, itchy, uncomfortable 5:00 shadow days, the "wow, I really need to shave my legs" days, the "geeze, that's disgusting, how long can leg hair grow, anyway?" days, and now I'm in the "meh, whatever, who cares? what difference does it make?" days. I'm neither repulsed or concerned. When I need to shave my legs, I will. For now I look at my razor perched in the bathroom and give it a knowing smirk. "Whatever. Beckon all you want, until I have a viable reason to use you I'm going to ignore you." When I was merely single, as opposed to single and unemployed, I still felt compelled, bound by convention, to shave my legs. I was going to work for crying out loud.

No one wanted to see my homage to singledom, the obvious mark of a woman who hasn't had sex in months, maybe years, possibly this millennium, and has no prospects or hope for sex any time soon. Least of all me. Work, respectable appearance for coworkers and clients, was my "excuse" for keeping my legs neatly shorn.

But, deep down I knew it was just an excuse masking the last vestiges of hope that somehow, someday, some man would find me interesting enough to at least take me for a spin in the sheets. Keeping my legs sex-ready was a small concession to that deeply repressed hope.

Without the excuse of work I am left with no real reason to shave my legs, wear clean underwear, apply makeup or wash my hair. No man, no job, no reason to not let myself lapse into a state of hygienic chaos.

I still snap to hygienic attention when I am going out - somewhere farther than the mailbox. When I'm going to see people or boldly brave society-at-large, I deign myself to take a shower, wash my hair, put on clean underwear, wear real clothes and even don some mascara and lipstick. My life is falling apart, spiraling out of control, but by golly I still care enough to smile like I mean it and try to dupe my friends and family and society-at-large that everything's okay, I'm doing okay, there's no need to worry about me, nosiree, everything's fine, nothing to see here.

But unfortunately I don't go out that often lately so days and days go by unshowered and unmade-up. It's reaching the point where I feel like an addict trying to convince myself I can quit any time, I just don't need to quit right now so I'll keep using until I need to quit. "I can shower and clean up any time I want. I can, really. I will, when I want, I will. When I need to clean up and get dressed and brush my hair I'll do it." I have fewer occasions to bother, fewer occasions to need to kick the unhygienic habit. Fewer occasions to smile like I mean it these days.

At first I kept up my normal hygiene routines. Showers and hair washings every day, complete with leg and pit shaving. I even bothered to style my hair just about every day. Teeth brushed morning and night. Make-up, even if just an abbreviated dose, was applied every day. Fresh underwear, bra and clean clothes, real clothes, not comfy sweats and t-shirts, every day. Laundry was done on schedule. Dishes were washed. I even liked that I had time to keep a regular routine. I touted that I now had the time to eat real meals at regularly scheduled times. I liked that I could do my laundry during the week-days and could keep up with it and not let it pile out of control. I thought there was merit and virtue in the discipline I was applying to myself during my new unemployment.

Then the discipline started to wane. I relaxed my standards.

I'm now eating cookie dough and Diet Pepsi at 2 AM and calling it breakfast. Around 3 PM, or 2 PM, or 4 PM, I'll saunter into the kitchen and consider cooking something. Sometimes, on the 14 foot trek to the kitchen, I get all inspired and think about pulling out a cookbook and making a real meal. Instead I rummage around for whatever's fast and easy, usually Ramen noodles or toast and peanut butter. Washed down with Diet Pepsi. I call it dunch. Dinner/lunch.

Around 9 PM I wonder why I feel like crap and then think about the crap I put in my body. I vow to eat better and get rid of the Diet Pepsi. At the very least bake the cookies. 15 minutes later I'm studying the box of Triscuits, looking for signs of any nutritional value and convincing myself they're a good source of fiber.

Feeling nutritionally virtuous after a late dinner of Triscuits I justify splurging on cookies and Diet Pepsi. I vow to make oatmeal raisin cookies because they have a lot of nutritional value. I make the cookies but as Craig Ferguson does his "what did we learn tonight" closing sequence I don't bother to bake the cookies and instead wash down the cookie dough with another Diet Pepsi.

The worst part of all this is that I'm aware of what I'm doing, or not doing. I know exactly what I should, or should not be doing, even in the moment. I know I shouldn't drink Diet Pepsi. I know I should eat nutritionally balanced meals on an appropriate schedule. I know I should shower and shave my legs. I know I should get dressed in clean, regular clothes. I know I'd be mortified if anyone knew how I'm living, if anyone knew I wasn't showering except when I'm going to see people, if anyone knew that for five days in a row I didn't wear underwear because I ran out of clean pairs and didn't have the energy? desire? money? to do laundry. I know I should at least bake the cookies for crying out loud.

It's apathy born of depression, obviously. Duh.

But there's more to it than that. I do care. I really do. But I know I need to conserve money and letting the laundry pile up rather than doing smaller loads makes financial and environmental sense.

Besides, do I really need to wear underwear every day if I'm not leaving my home? Ditto dishes piled in the sink. Ditto hair washing.

It's all very bohemian. And scary.

Sure, I don't need to wear make-up every day, or style my hair, or even wear work-appropriate attire. I am just sitting around at home working on my job applications. And I was a little high maintenance, I suppose. My standards of personal appearance were a bit, well, high. Clean, pressed real clothes, always. Showered, legs and pits shaved bare every day, every day, no excpetions. Hair shampooed, conditioned and styled every day, no exceptions. Make-up applied before stepping foot out the door, a must. None of this was affected, it was just normal, healthy, respectable grooming. It's how I was raised. You just don't go around being sloppy. Period. It's about self-respect and dignity. It's just what you do.

But the whole hygiene thing catapults me into another league. I think it was the underwear thing that made me realize how far I've fallen. I've gradually weaned out the boyfriend appropriate underwear from my life. I keep a few pairs, you know, just in case Hell freezes over or there's a meteoric catastrophe that sends people into the streets to gaze heavenward at the oncoming assault and grabbing the first person they can find for one last fuck before the world comes to an end. (Which, by the way, is my most regular fantasy and the only hope I have to actually have sex before I die.)

Before I go out into the streets on the night of cosmic-Armageddon, my plan is to quickly rummage in the back of my underwear drawer for a pair of boyfriend-appropriate underwear and don them before heading out for indiscriminate sex and then to die. I figure if I'm going to have indiscriminate cosmic-Armageddon sex I don't want to be caught wearing white cotton sensible briefs verging on granny pants.

I'd prefer to be blasted into eternity wearing white cotton sensible briefs verging on granny pants because forever is a really long time and comfortable undies would be nice, but since I actually want to have indiscriminate cosmic-Armageddon sex I plan to stick to the plan of a quick change before heading out into the streets.

The only question up for debate is whether or not I take the time to shave my legs. I figure cosmic-Armageddon sex is fast and furious sex. Quick and feverish. The jeans probably won't need to fall below my knees. The guy just needs enough clearance for a few quick thrusts. At least that's how it plays out in my fantasies. So taking the time to shave my lower legs probably would just be wasting precious cosmic-Armageddon indiscriminate sex partner finding time.

He'll have to deal with an ungroomed snatch, though. One thing is certain: I've been single long enough to appreciate the liberation that emancipation from snatch waxing and shaving and tweezing gives a girl. And there's no going back. At least not in the event of cosmic-Armageddon. I am not going to take the time, in my last few hours of life, to groom my snatch into some Penthouse® centerfold ready pattern or worse, shave down to prepubescent bareness. Uh-uh. No way. No how. Not in my last few hours of life. I'll give-in to media-molded stereotyped male objectification and desire and throw on the uncomfortable black lace undies but I am not going to groom my snatch. Not in my last few hours on this mortal coil.

There are a lot of college aged and Puerto Rican girls in my neighborhood. You know how they are. I'm certain they'll be wearing boyfriend-ready undies. I don't want to be the only woman left standing alone on the eve of cosmic Armageddon. The guys will say, "I would have grabbed her (pointing at me) but I got a look at her undies and decided to grab this girl with the La Perla black lace thong, instead. I mean, what with it being my last fuck and all, why settle for the girl in sensible white cotton briefs when there's a black lace thong up for the taking just a block away? And besides, under those sensible white cotton briefs she had an ungroomed snatch."

Anyway. That's why I have a couple pairs of boyfriend-appropriate underwear shoved way back in the underwear drawer. A cosmic-Armageddon situation. I'm not holding out real hope for an actual boyfriend, a bona-fide need to wear uncomfortable underwear. A cosmic-Armageddon situation is more likely.

But here's the thing. That underwear is my laundry barometer. When my clean underwear supply is dwindling and I'm down to almost nothing but the boyfriend underwear, I know it's way past time to catch up with the laundry. The threat of having to wear the boyfriend-appropriate underwear is usually enough to motivate me to catch up with the laundry. I know it's there, lurking in the back corner of my underwear drawer, I know it's there in case of a laundry emergency (or cosmic-Armageddon) but it's more of a threat than a comfort. "Aaaack! Alert! Alert! You're dangerously close to having to wear that underwear! Alert! Alert! Do your laundry NOW!!!"

When I was working I used to get dangerously close to the boyfriend-appropriate underpants event horizon. Working 10-12 hour days cuts into your free time, your laundry time. Work clothes can be dropped off at the dry cleaner, towels and sheets can "go a few extra days," but undies? Yeah. There's no denying the need to do laundry when it comes to underwear.

Except when you're unemployed. And single. I ran out of regular underwear, lowered myself to a few uncomfortable days in boyfriend-appropriate underwear, and still, still I couldn't be bothered to do my laundry.

Why? Why not just go down to the laundry room and do a load of laundry? What is the big deal? I've got nothing but time on my hands, I have the quarters, I have the detergent, there's no reason, no logical or illogical reason to not do a load of laundry.

And yet...and this speaks to the crux of the issue...there's no reason to do it, either.

I'm not the sort of girl who goes commando. But. I've been going commando. And no, it's not freeing, liberating or devilishly bad girl.

A friend invited me to go to a movie on the spur of the moment the other day. I turned her down because it meant that I would have to do laundry so that I would have underwear to wear when we went to the movie. Even though I now go commando in the confines of my condo I cannot go out in public a-la-commando. I mean, well, you know, at least not to a movie with a friend, anyway. In jeans. Ouch. Gross. Ouch.

Yep, I turned down an invite to get out for a few hours because I couldn't make myself do laundry. Apparently I prefer to stay home in the same dirty old t-shirt I've worn for five days and no underwear than do laundry, take a shower, brush my hair, get dressed and go to a movie with a friend.

It's symptomatic of my anxiety and despair. I know this and I feel stupid for not doing something about it. I mean, if I couldn't figure it out, if I didn't realize that it's a symptom of the psychology of unemployment, excuses could be made. But no excuses. I know what this all means. I know what's happening to me. And yet I just let it happen. Which is weird because I'm so not the victim type. I'm the self-responsible, self-reliant, put on your big girl panties and snap-out-of-it-and-deal-with-it type. Except my big girl panties are all in the laundry.

I don't know if unemployed people with significant others go through this laundry issue. I mean, the bare minimum you do for your partner is keep up with the laundry and clean underwear, right? No matter how depressed or forlorn or sad you feel about not having a job, out of respect for your partner you garner the wherewithal to keep clean underwear on hand and wear it, right?

And really, truly, if I get a call for a job interview (ha!) or have a reason to go out, in public, I will rally and do the laundry and don the underwear. It's become a sort of superstitious test of will for me. How long can I endure not wearing underwear? I'm not doing laundry until I have a darned good reason to wear underwear. So Universe, you better hurry up and get some interviews lined up for me.

The thing is, though, I suspect most unemployed people go through some form of hygienic breakdown. A few of my unemployed friends have confided to me that they have "let things 'slip' a little" in the hygiene and cleanliness aspects of their lives. Signs of depression and despair, of course, but there's a practical aspect to it: Saving money.

Most of my female friends who are unemployed start their skimping on unemployment budget by eliminating "good" make-up and skin care products. Drug store brands instead of the specialty brands. Unfortunately for one of my friends the switch to a cheaper moisturizer resulted in a horrible breakout and now a case of what appears to be Rosacea. It's bad and painful enough to warrant a trip to a dermatologist, but, oops, no job, no health insurance, no dermatologist so she's stuck with painful cheeks. What price unemployment? No one thinks about this kind of stuff. And sure, in the grand scheme it's ridiculous to even suggest that her skin problem is in league with, say, losing your home due to unemployment. But. It's the little things that chip away at you. And it really does hurt her. She's in a lot of pain.

There are plus sides, too. We can be mighty resourceful when required. One friend shampoos her hair every other day. She gives herself this "treat" by diluting her shampoo with water to extend the number of shampoos/bottle.

Frankie, an habitual snatch-waxer, confided that she hasn't waxed in months. Benjy, she says, is being a good sport about it. He's not complaining. They're "adjusting" to Frankie's more natural look and feel. At $75++, the once-essential monthly snatch wax has become an expensive frivolity. I laugh at the ridiculousness of this. There are people right here in a America who go days without eating and live in their cars or in shelters and Frankie's big concession to unemployment is going without snatch waxes. She's aware that she's hardly enduring a plight, she knows they're lucky that they have decent severance packages, a trust fund and some savings to live on until one of them can find a job. But nonetheless, ahem, "cut-backs" are necessary while they ride out days of unemployment. Sacrifices must be made. She's diluting her shampoo and skimping on make-up, too.

But I haven't broached the subject of laundry and underwear with my friends. I'm too embarrassed. And they all have boyfriends or husbands. They have reasons to do their laundry and wear underwear. They have significant others relying on them to at least try to keep up with their personal hygiene (Frankie's snatch-waxing notwithstanding).

Me? Yeah. Not so much. It's just me. If I wear the same t-shirt and no undies days in a row no one will ever know. If I don't shower or wash my hair, or even brush my hair for that matter, for days on end, no one will ever know or care. (I'm kind of afraid to take my hair out of the pony tail holder I folded the mats into a few days ago, I think I might be starting to form dreadlocks.) If I stink and look awful, like a sick, mangy alley-cat dying in a dumpster, no one will ever know. No one will ever get mad at me or break-up with me because of it. No one will ever care.

Having said that, it's not apathy. I do care. I guess. I dunno. Maybe not. I must not care, right? If I cared I would do the laundry, wear underwear, wash my hair, bake the cookie dough and at least bother to maintain some semblance of a healthy, normal, hygienic life, right? Yeah, I think so, too.

And yet, I do care. I do want clean clothes and underwear and clean, brushed hair, and a caffeine-free/artificial sweetener-free nutritionally balanced diet. I am troubled with my apparent lack of self-respect. I do care.

It's something else. Something other than apathy.

Laziness? Maybe. I don't consider myself to be a lazy person but then I've never had the opportunity to be lazy. Maybe I am a lazy person who's been too busy to realize I'm lazy. Kinda doubt it, I'm pretty self-motivated and ambitious. But then again, I've always had a job, a career, professional goals to fuel my motivation, so maybe I am lazy. Maybe all these years I've been a lazy person who was too busy to realize it.

Depression, I suppose, sure, of course I'm depressed. I've been unemployed for 12 weeks and I've had next-to-no interest from any employers. Of course I'm depressed. I'm single and unemployed and on the verge of going into foreclosure. Duh, of course I'm depressed.

Then again, though, apart from the obvious signs of depression, I still feel pretty darned positive. I'm still wrapping people in forgiveness and sympathy Snuggies®. I'm still feeling pretty darned happy about not having to deal with my former manager anymore, ever again in my life. I'm still feeling, you know, okay about the whole thing. I'm still on my hippie trip mantra. Accept. Forgive. Love. Heal. Peace. In that order.

So why, then, the lack of personal hygiene, balanced nutrition and laundry?

Dunno. Not a clue. I think it has something to do with being unemployed, being alone and feeling worthless in the main facets of life. No job, no man, nothing. I have nothing. Not even my health for crying out loud. (Do not get me started on my ongoing foot saga. We'll be here all night if I start talking about that.)

Then again, I have everything. And I know it. I have a great family and fabulous friends. I have oodles of support and concern. I may very well lose "everything" but I won't have lost anything of real value. My family and (a few of) my friends are showing sides of themselves, depths of compassion and care, to me that goes beyond all realm of conventional duty. A friend who is also unemployed offered to help me pay my mortgage. My mother keeps telling me to stop being so reliable and responsible to her, that I need to be more selfish. Another friend, thousands of miles away, used some connections, swallowed some pride and called in a few favors to get me free Pixies tickets. (Hey! A reason to do laundry, take a shower and wear underwear! Woo hoo! Levitate me!)

I have a blog and intelligent, funny, kind people people who, for some bizarre reason, read it. Somehow, some way, my idiotic ranty words find their way to the right people. Somehow, some way, those words resonate with those right people and voila! the Universe shrinks to a manageable size. (I haven't thanked Al Gore for the internet lately. So, thanks, Al.)

See what I mean? I'm losing everything but I haven't lost anything that matters. It's all very trite and clichéd, of course, but it is.

So why the hygiene? The food? The laundry? The underwear? Yeah. I dunno. It's something I can't articulate. I suspect it's tied into my lack of self-worth at the moment. But even that doesn't fully explain it. If I did my laundry, wore underwear, took a shower and washed my hair, baked the swutting cookies, I'd have a lot more self worth. And I know that. And yet (glancing at three bags of laundry spilling all over the bedroom), I can't make the move to doing the things I want to do, the things I know I need to do, the basic fundamentals of life like hygiene. If anyone, anyone saw me or even knew what's going on with me, all dirty and underwearless, I'd be mortified. Absolutely mortified. And yet...do I do anything about it? Take a 10 minute shower? Shave my legs? Or even just undo the matted pony tail and brush my hair? Do a load, just one load, of laundry? Bake the cookies?

Nope. I do not.

It may be like the shift in perspective I gained when I realized there are upsides to being chronically single. And yes, there are upsides to being single, even chronically single. No uncomfortable underwear. No snatch grooming. No annoying drone of football games blaring from the television every weekend and Monday night. No torturous obsessing over hip, butt and thigh size. No more tying hip, butt and thigh size into my credibility and value as a person. No boyfriend's dysfunctional family and childhood and dealing with the resulting issues. No hurt feelings. No trust betrayed.

Realizing being single means there's no chance of betrayal was a huge turning point for me. I take a lot of solace in that on long, lonely nights. "Sure being alone and lonely sucks and it hurts, but after all the betrayal I've endured in relationships, the pain they caused me, this is a pleasant afternoon at the beach in comparison."

It took me a long time to get to that point of rationalization. A lot of steps down a long path with several missteps onto other paths, but I got there.

Perhaps this is another walk down another path toward a point of realization and ultimately a way of forming it into a manageable rationalization. I'm not sure what hygiene could possibly have to do with managing the anxiety of unemployment, but, in many ways accepting unemployment is similar to accepting being single. Things got pretty ugly after the HWNMNBS breakup. I mean really ugly. But I had a job and responsibilities to that job to keep me doing my laundry and wearing underwear. Now, well, now that I don't have a job I'm just floundering, apparently going through some thing, some phase.

And I suppose that's the whole point. It's all just a series of phases. Some good, some bad, most of them mediocre. This phase, this underwearless, showerless, unbaked cookie, hairy leg phase is a weird one, a bad one, but certainly not a mediocre one. I'm trying to find solace in that. This phase sucks, but I'm not suffering from mediocrity.

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3:08 PM

Sunday, October 25, 2009  
Grievous. Bereft. Heartbreaking. Dolorous. Lugubrious.

Sorrowful.

5:50 PM

 
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